When we got up the next morning, it was windy and foggy. We broke camp and hit the trail around 9. About 20 minutes later we hit the junction of Mount Rogers trail and the Lewis Fork Spur trail. At that time my wife learned one of the maxims of the trail. When you stop for the night towards the end of a long day, you will always find a perfect campsite just a few minutes down the trail the next morning! Sure enough, that happened to us! There is a fantastic little campsite at the junction of these two trails. We took the spur trail to the Lewis Fork Trail and followed it back to the AT. Trail is a horse trail every stinking inch of the way, tons of rocks and miry mud. Very level but slow going, not much fun at all. About 2/3's the way down this section, my wife commented that she was ready to get back to the AT!
We got to the AT and within a few 100 yards came to the Old Orchard Shelter where we stopped for lunch. Met a pair of brothers doing a section hike. I also discovered one of the joys of hiking with kids, let them go get the water!
Now I know this shelter and spring so I felt like the girls were up to it, they really seemed to enjoy the responsibility. As we were finishing lunch it started to rain. I stopped just as we were ready to hit the trail:
Heading south on the AT out of Old Orchard shelter is a very steep two mile climb, this was the hardest climb of the trip but we did okay with it, only stopped a few times on the way up. At times the wife and kids left me in the dust! During this climb, we decided to give mom the trail name of Mommy Long Legs because she always seemed to have a daddy long legs near her when she stopped, plus she has long legs which made her a great climber!
We get to the top for a long, pack off break. During the break we met a couple from Asheville who were doing a thru hike! The kids had lots of questions about that. Then it was a short 1.5 mile jaunt to the Scales area, a big horse staging area in a big field. The climb out the other side was fairly easy and open. My wife said it reminded her of the opening scene from Sound of Music! From there it was a two mile, mostly downhill walk to Little Wilson Creek, our intended stopping point for the day.